3 Incredible Indigenous Women Entrepreneurs

March 6, 2023

In Canada, BIPOC women are challenging social constructs, fighting to create meaningful change and provide overdue representation. Here are three indigenous women who recognized gaps in their respective markets and have built successful businesses that celebrate their unique heritage and cross cultural boundaries. —Natalie Preddie

Inez Cook

Inez Cook is a proud member of the Nuxalk Nation in Bella Coola B.C., and started her restaurant, Salmon n’ Bannock Bistro in 2010, just in time for the Vancouver Olympics. “The whole world was coming and we no longer had an Indigenous restaurant. It was time,” says Inez, who as a child, knew that one day she would own a restaurant that served Indigenous cuisine, embracing and celebrating her unique culture. Now she owns two, the second being Salmon N Bannock On The Fly, which opened in Vancouver Airport this past February. This is the first and only Indigenous restaurant in any Canadian airport. “We have been underrepresented for so long and it is the perfect time,” she says. “Many talk reconciliation. I like taking reconciliACTION. Especially economic reconciliACTION. I think about our ancestors and people before us that never had these opportunities. It makes me extremely emotional and drives my passion.”

Candace Campo

Talaysay Tours offers authentic Aboriginal and eco-tourism experiences in and around Vancouver, Squamish and the Sunshine Coast. Their First Nations guides share traditional stories, legends and ways of living through sights of old forests, wildlife, beautiful views and seasonal flora and fauna. Co-founder Candace Campo started Talaysay Tours is 2002. Her ancestral name is xets’emits’a, meaning “to always be there,” much like her rich Aboriginal history and the land she guides her guests through. Trained as an anthropologist and teacher, sharing outdoor education and culture came naturally to Candace. Growing up on the land and being immersed in the stories of her people has fuelled her passion for sharing her culture. “Being out on the land and water, and meeting people from all over the world [fills me up],” she says. “I love to share our environment, our home, with visitors and our own community members, too.” During the school season, Candace works with other educators and their students, teaching First Nations history, ecology, kayaking, canoeing, cultural protocols and art.

Teara Fraser

Iskwew Air was launched by Teara Fraser in 2018, making her the first Indigenous woman to start an airline. The word Iskwew is Cree word for woman and was chosen to celebrate the first Indigenous woman-owned airline, as well as all women and all those lifting women up. Based at Vancouver International Airport, Iskwew Air not only connects international visitors to First Nation experiences, it also reaches remote communities across B.C. where other pilots won’t fly. The airline prides itself on three founding principles: commitment to reconciliation, environmental initiatives and mentorship. Teara has already broken barriers in a male-dominated field and hopes this inspires other women and Indigenous peoples to pursue a career in aviation.


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